Join The Sisterhood!

I've written before about how much I've enjoyed Pilates instructor Robin Long with The Balanced Life.  Her blog, free Pilates workouts, and Instagram feed have really inspired and challenged me to be healthier and stronger right where I am, with a healthy perspective of where my body is today.  It's a "grace over guilt" perspective on healthy eating and exercise full of positive encouragement and motivation. 

Until recently, I just did her free videos that she posts all the time on her website and YouTube channel.  But then, Robin launched an awesome new program called The Balanced Life Sisterhood - for only $9/month you get a daily Pilates workout plan, healthy recipes to try throughout the month, a private Facebook group to meet and talk with others ladies in the Sisterhood, and if you want, you can even be matched up with a "sister" to email privately.  I joined, and it's totally worth it to me to have a daily schedule to follow and a specific plan that helps me stay on track.  Most of the workouts are short (like only 7-10 minutes long, totally doable!) but super effective.  My "sister" Jennie in Minnesota is awesome, and we're in the same stages of life as young moms just trying to juggle life and stay healthy and strong.  It's been great to check in with her regularly and cheer each other on.  The recipe ideas are super easy and tasty too - I made an avocado yogurt dip for the Superbowl, and my super-food-snob-chef husband practically licked the bowl! 

I can't say enough great things about Robin and The Balanced Life - even though I've never met Robin, I feel like I'm working out with a friend every time I put on one of her videos.  And my body craves Pilates now.   In the past, exercise has tended to feel burdensome and stressful to me, and I've definitely felt guilty when I haven't stayed on track or achieved a certain size or level.  Instead, this feels like a freeing way to live my life while becoming more disciplined at the same time.  Love it!

Check out The Sisterhood!

And let me know if you sign up - I get a free month!  Hee hee!

#MindBodyMat and "things I don't do."

Do you want to become stronger and learn better self-care?  I do.  I recently discovered The Balanced Life website and online Pilates classes with Robin Long, and they've helped me so muchI first heard about Robin through one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, and then I recently starting following Robin's Instagram feed and doing her free, short (8-10 minutes) Pilates videos regularly.  Now I'm participating in her current challenge - 21 days of free Pilates and self-care called #MindBodyMat.   Especially after growing and birthing two humans from my body, I need to be encouraged with a healthy perspective, not one that focuses on being a certain size or weight.  What matters is taking care of myself so I can better serve others, becoming stronger and healthier, living life to the fullest.  It's my faith that drives this - life is a gift, and I want to treat it that way.

Week 1 of the #MindBodyMat challenge is over, but it's not too late to join in!  All the past workouts are available on Robin's website or you can just start with week 2.  The great thing is they're super short yet intense.  In fact, I was completely exhausted on day 2 of last week and in the craziness of the day didn't get to the workout.  So I took 20 minutes the next day and knocked out both workouts at once, and then my arms were trembling - ha!  But I didn't want to get too far behind and am glad I stayed on track. 

The short workouts are totally doable, but it's still a little comical with two little ones at home.  Here's a photo of day 1 - my baby crawling all over me and 4-year-old trying to do the video next to me on a bunch of towels and later using my mat as a cape. But I got it done and that's all that matters!


The other aspect of the #MindBodyMat challenge is self-care - so each day, Robin includes a simple, practical self-care challenge to go along with the workout.  This was my favorite one from the first week...

I actually first heard the idea of making a list of "things I don't do" from Shauna Niequist in her book Bittersweet, which is one of my favorites.  Since reading it, I've always wanted to make the list for myself, and this was a great chance.  So here we go...

Things I don't do:

  • I don't run.  At times in my life, I've thought about jumping on the running bandwagon, but it's just not me.   I'd much rather take power walks, do yoga, Pilates, or swim.
  • I don't do drama.  Want to see me head for the hills?  Then start stirring up confrontation and conflict and dissension that creates problems for myself and others.  Genuine disagreements can be worked through, but constant drama is another story, and I just can't handle it.
  • I don't do canning & preserving.  Maybe it's too technical and overwhelming for me, but I'm perfectly happy to cheer on my husband and our close friends who love to do it...and then enjoy eating the fruits of their labor 6 months down the line!
  • I don't diet.  I did Nutrisystem in high school, ate all their fake food, and lost a ton of weight.  Then I gained it all back once I started eating "real" food again.  Nothing has brought me more freedom than making a decision to never diet again and just eat and enjoy real, whole foods in their purest form the way God intended
  • I don't do competitive sports or follow sports teams.   My history in following sports teams can be summed up in a NY Yankees and Philadelphia Flyers obsession in 1993 when I knew every single player and his stats.  And trust me, you don't want me on your team. 
  • I don't do white walls.  A white wall is just a blank canvas to me!  I've painted almost every wall in my house a different color and must live surrounded by color - it just makes me happy.
  • I don't do water-skiing.  The thought of being pulled by a boat just makes me shudder.   But I'll jump off a boat or a cliff with no problem.  I just don't want to be attached to something - ha!
  • I don't make beds {very often}.  Yeah, there's the day once in a blue moon when I feel like making the bed look lovely, but in reality, this is a bed-sharing house and half the time a child is in our bed, or we're in Luci Belle's bed reading books.  So I don't put pressure on myself to make beds.  I do, however, have a wide selection of decorative pillows, and those are staying!
  • I don't do chaos.  I've embraced the fact that I'm a social introvert, and I love going here and there all week long, getting together with friends.  But there's a fine line between that lovely kind of fullness and the kind that sucks the life out of you - chaos.  When it crosses over into chaos, I start to break down.  The kitchen being a disaster is also chaos.   Peace, peace, peace...this is what I want to fill my life and home.

Well, that felt good.  Saying no to these things creates room for me to say yes to...

Things that bring me life:

I live a simple life with my husband and daughters.  I treasure my children.  I homeschool.  I nourish my body with real food and feed everyone well who enters my home.   I walk, I hike, I love the outdoors.  I do yoga and Pilates.  I drink lots of tea and read lots of books at one time and stay up late.  I breastfeed my children for much longer than the "norm."  I try to do my part to fight for justice and care about children in places like Iraq, India, and Africa.  I write and take photos.  I paint and color and draw and do crafts and make things for people.  I strive to live a life of gratefulness, and "I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift."

If you're doing the #MindBodyMat challenge, let me know in the comments and we can keep each other accountable.

Here's to being stronger, healthier, and more vibrant every day.  Life is a gift, my friends.